Selling an event space is part fact and part imagination. Clients want to know the details--capacity, resources, restrictions and cost, for example.
However, they also want to know the possibilities. Can your venue be the setting for their dream event? Will the planning process be smooth, efficient and stress-free? Can you take a popular venue and still deliver a unique event?
All of these are considerations for potential clients, and your sales team needs to know how to effectively present both the facts and the possibilities.
These are some of the ways that we successfully woo prospects and book exquisite events.
1. Respond to inquiries quickly.
The quicker the venue's response time to a prospect’s first inquiry, the better the booking rate turns out to be. Prospects want instantaneous information and to feel confident that as clients, they will receive the details they need to know as quickly as possible.
Have standard yet customizable responses ready for the most common inquiries you receive, so you can send them out without delay. Include answers to your most frequently asked questions, along with a strong call to action reminding prospects to contact you for an initial consultation as soon as possible.
2. Pre-qualify before scheduling.
Your time is valuable, as is your potential clients’ time, so do everyone a favor and pre-qualify them before setting up an initial consultation.
Consult your calendar in advance so you know which days are available, and cross-check the dates that they are considering with your own booking calendar. If you’re not available at all, it’s no use dragging them out to the venue for hours, only to disappoint them.
3. Be memorable.
Use surprise and delight your prospects.
You might serve a great bottle of wine during your consultation, or have some specialty music cued up for your tour of the dance floor. Send each prospect home with a high-quality logo item at the end of a tour, or send a follow-up gift to their home or office to say thank you for considering your venue. Make them feel as special as they will when they take the plunge and sign a contract with you!
As a rule, listen far more than you talk during your initial conversations. If your prospects aren’t talking, ask open-ended questions to help guide the meeting so you can learn about their requirements, desires, fears and personalities.
If you listen at this stage, you’ll be able to identify opportunities to match your best selling points with their unique needs. Your presentation will evolve into one that is completely customized and highly effective.
5. Be confident.
Ask for the close. When you know a prospect is a great match for your venue, don’t be shy. Explain what is necessary for you both to seal the deal, and give a date when you need a signature and financial agreement. Make it clear that you want their business and make it easy to say “yes.”
6. Keep your eye on the client.
Most importantly, always remain client-focused. Court your prospects with the same level of enthusiasm, service and quality that you plan to provide once you begin planning together. Your booking rates will soar.
Heather Jones is the catering sales director for Wente Vineyards, a family-owned property in Livermore, Calif., that is home to a winery and vineyards, a golf course, restaurant, and a range of unique facilities for hosting weddings and special events.